a flat loaf

bread detail

Recipe from I have to say….

Note for future reference: as David suggested this would be good with soup. Are you thinking bread bowl? I am.

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Three of the most gloriously delicious foods I remember from Taiwan are 油條, 小籠包, and 饅頭. The first isn’t even really worth eating unless you can find a good breakfast vendor. The second–plenty of decent frozen steamed meat buns can be found in Asian grocery stores, but this specific type (with meat AND soup inside) might be trickier to find. 饅頭 might seem like a very basic food (a dinner roll equivalent?) but my love for plain and simple foods plus nostalgia brings me to try to make and steam some myself.

I tried this recipe for a start. It’s really just bread but steamed instead of baked (and I guess kneaded once more?) but the results weren’t bad.

mantou

Kind of rough-looking, but the feel isn’t too far off.

mantou detail

There is, however, something missing from the flavor. I’ll have to get my hands on some store-bought ones to compare. Until then, however…

mantou filled

… just add some 肉鬆 and all is well with the world.

chocobos

A pair of good-luck (and/or early birthday) chocobos for Emily! Yarn is KP shine sport. Modified from the Mauritius Dodo pattern on Crochet Me and inspired by kinoko’s chocobo, seen here.

Last time there was a delicious stir-fry. What could beat that? How about…

bringing pastry back

… fruit–strawberries, no less–in pie form is always promising! And what David ended up with was:

strawberry pie

Strawberry glace pie! Recipe here; used cream cheese instead of the Tofutti.

And the money shot, is, of course, the mandatory close-up. Apologies for poor lighting and further apologies because I am eating (sneaking a slice of ) this pie now and you are not.

strawberry pie slice

REALLY delicious.

I am a bread-loving person. One of my all-time favorite foods is 饅頭; my taste for dense, plain breads and rolls extends to muffuletta (mmm) and–I admit this guiltily–the interiors of baguettes and challah. (Side note: Don’t get me wrong, I won’t go on a mining expedition when eating with friends or hosting a dinner. But since Mom is a fan of flaky and flavorful bread crusts, I have been known to dig portions of bread and leave the outer shell behind… I digress.) With this breadly history and! inspired by this awesome “braiding a six-strand challah” video recently posted on Craftster, I decided to (finally!) make a loaf of my own.

The recipe I used is from Chai Time (same author as the aforementioned video); link here. And my humble attempt follows:

just asking to be punched

After leaving the ball of dough alone for a couple of hours while I went shopping for groceries and mystery sales at Target I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that I hadn’t messed anything up so far. So some punching and three botched braidings later I had this:

freshly braided

Cutting the dough was pretty difficult, for one. And then there was the funny business of always ending up with one really short strand, for some reason. But finally! On to the second rising and baking…

making bread! A challah loaf.

Voila! Somehow, during the second rising the loaf took on an about-to-explode quality. The Secret of Challah (via Wikipedia) suggests skipping an official second rising and just putting the loaf in when the oven is preheating instead; maybe this will make my bread less bloated. Despite appearances, though, grab a handful and deliciousness overwhelms :)

a handful
Quite successful, I think! And very delicious with this apple-spice spread that was on sale at the grocery store. The famous no-knead bread is next on my list, I think.

let's call it iron chef training?
Awesome? Oh yeah.

And the results are:

beef stir-fry

totoro

His eyes are really huge and therefore a little un-Totoro-like, but other than that this turned out pretty well. Re-igniting my love of making cute things: success.